If you want your company websites, personal blogs or even your LinkedIn page to be well-liked, a sound SEO optimization is indispensable. Understanding how Google and associates index pages are the first steps to good SEO.
From the second half of the nineties, website builders actively optimized their content for the search engines of the time. The goal: to organize the results in such a way that certain pages would appear on similar pages of competitors. That basis still exists twenty years later, but both the search engines and the content creators are significantly further in their development.
Search engines in the early years of SEO were little charmed by the tactics used. Different search engines recognized the ‘problem’ even before the term SEO was mentioned. Websites copied entire dictionaries to their landing pages in order to get a good position in the search results on as many search terms as possible. Search engines such as Infoseek acted effectively against such tricks, for example by searching for long concatenations of words without the use of punctuation.
The reverse has been going on in recent years. In principle, search engines no longer oppose SEO-tricks, unless they fall under the black hat strategy (more about that later). In fact, for companies like Google that aim to make as much information as possible available, SEO is a blessing. All major search engines have developed platforms for monitoring and optimizing content. The exact algorithms are not shared, but in 2008 Google released an SEO starters guide explaining the basic concepts and techniques.
Many search engines visit or organize meetings for webmasters and content creators, where SEO related matters are discussed. For example, search engine optimization is no longer a dirty word, but it is a good way for both camps to show the right content to the right visitor.
Seo is trial and error: you try something new, see if it works and does or does not start again
There are two types of SEO: black hat and white hat. Just like hacking, a white hat strategy colors within the lines and tries to make use of clever quibbles, while with a black hat strategy, the search engine is deliberately turned around. Search engines are still running fast against black hat-SEO, with temporary penalties or even complete exclusion of search results as a result.
Black hat strategies are, for example, redirecting landing pages to less well-formed pages, the excessive use of (irrelevant) meta tags and hiding large collections of keywords by putting them in an almost invisible pixel or camouflaging them in the background color of the website. Techniques can change from white hat to black hat: the excessive use of keywords (relevant or not) in the text, a so-called high ‘keyword density’, was once a clever trick, but is nowadays seen as manipulation.
Secret algorithm from Google (and others)
The algorithms of Google and other search engines are not carved in stone. Google is constantly working on new strategies for the crawlers, which can better assess websites for quality and detect possible black hat SEO. Where search engines judge exactly, always guesses. It is said that Google has more than two hundred lines in the algorithm, each of which determines how well a website score.
The problem for content creators is that those rules are not public. All the information that SEO specialists think they know is a result of ‘trial and error’: you try something new, see if it works and whether or not it starts again. In this way, we have already learned a lot, but still, a large part of the algorithm is unknown.
Who thinks of search engines thinks of Google. Especially when you are in a Google bubble, with Android on your smartphone, Chrome as browser and maybe even Google Assistant in your speakers, it is easy to ignore the other search engines. Yet Yahoo was second to none for years, Bing is standard on every new sold Windows PC and DuckDuckGo resists Googles insatiable data hunger. Fortunately for content creators, the SEO algorithms of the various search engines are reasonably similar.
Seo algorithms from different search engines luckily match
Keywords are the main ranking factor everywhere, although Google is increasingly trying to get away from what you type and increasingly guess what you mean by that.
Bing focuses more on local results, Google tries to connect the whole world. In general, however, if you are high on Google, chances are that you are high in Bing, Yahoo, and all those other search engines. And because by far the majority of searches are carried out via Google, we will most often mention that website in these workshops. However, all techniques and rules also apply to the other search engines.
The best SEO strategy
Search engine optimization is twofold. First of all, there is the technique that must be in order. Your website may not contain errors and must be safe and easily accessible. On the other hand, you can optimize on page or article level. Finally, the mobile user is becoming increasingly important. An accelerated mobile page (shortly amp, a super-fast mobile clone of a regular page) is a way to get that user to your website instead of to the competitor.
You can read more about the specific tools and techniques you can use to optimize your website with our PCM colleagues.
READ ALSO: Bitcoin and co: 15 tips for cryptocurrency